Is human herpesvirus-6 a trigger for chronic fatigue syndrome?

J Clin Virol. 2006 Dec;37 Suppl 1:S39-46. doi: 10.1016/S1386-6532(06)70010-5.


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an illness currently defined entirely by a combination of non-specific symptoms. Despite this subjective definition, CFS is associated with objective underlying biological abnormalities, particularly involving the nervous system and immune system. Most studies have found that active infection with human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6)--a neurotropic, gliotropic and immunotropic virus--is present more often in patients with CFS than in healthy control and disease comparison subjects, yet it is not found in all patients at the time of testing. Moreover, HHV-6 has been associated with many of the neurological and immunological findings in patients with CFS. Finally, CFS, multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders share some clinical and laboratory features and, like CFS, the latter two disorders also are being associated increasingly with active HHV-6 infection. Therefore, it is plausible that active infection with HHV-6 may trigger and perpetuate CFS in a subset of patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / etiology
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / virology*
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human* / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Roseolovirus Infections / complications*